DEBATE OF '98- education of the forestry profession

Joseph Zorzin redoak at
Thu Apr 30 09:07:13 EST 1998

JimiFromMI wrote:
> Joseph Zorzin <redoak at> wrote:
> > How good is forestry education? How can it be improved?
> Maybe all ya'll foresters need to put on a better Public Relations campaign.  I
> commented a while back about general perceptions being that Foresters CUT trees
> (very, very bad) while the Soil Conservation Service people PLANT trees (so
> very, very good).  It even has "Conservation" in the name!

The ancient confusion between foresters and loggers amongst many people.
I still have landowners ask me how their forests will look after I
personally log the place. Maybe we need a TV show or a movie with a
famous actor to play a really cool forester who only does what's right
by the forest, not just for money. I'd suggest Arnold Swartzenegger as
an Austrian forestmeister who comes to America- and he battles evil
loggers, crackpot econuts and more evil "burros".

> Why doesn't my annual solicitation for seedlings come from (or even mention)
> the forestry division instead of  from the SCS?

I think you got it right above, the foresters are too busy planning

But, in the NE USA any ways, the trees plant themselves just fine after
harvests. We generally would encourage tree planting only on old fields.
This is not understood by the public. Landowners always ask "don't we
have to plant after the harvest?"

> Is "forestry" too narrow minded of a word?  I'm curious.  In many disciplines
> there are a plethora of specialties that one can focus on in their education.
> How many specialties are offered in pursuit of forestry education?  Are there
> wildlife management specialties within forestry, or old growth specialties
> (that sounds like an easy one, just sit around and leave 'em alone).  You get
> the picture.

Forestry has been a narrow minded profession. Many foresters have only
attended 2 year schools which only teach forestry. These "tech"
foresters usually do a great job working in industry as timber buyers,
but they're not prepared for the bigger issues. Most of the rest have a
BS degree- but that too isn't good preparation for battling
environmentalists and politicians. I really think the best education
would be to get a BS in biology or ecology, then a MS in forestry.
Graduate degrees in forestry after a BS in forestry in opinion is going
down too narrow a road.

> Just about everybody in this newsgroup is aware that the FOREST is a very
> complex relationship of trees, moss, fungi, animals, geology, etc.  Maybe you
> (and the agriculture guys, et al) should just be degreed ECOLOGISTS with a
> specialty in <whatever>.  At least this word gives <warm feelings of green and
> harmony with nature>.
> SILVICULTURIST:  Another name that just doesn't do it.  People think of silver
> mines and again, environmental damage.

Hmmmm.... yes a better word is needed. It only makes sense to those who
study Latin since silva is Latin for forest- and silvics is the
technical term for forest ecology. Perhaps the word- Forestmeister! That
will bring to mind a better image- handsome stud- deep in the forest -
communicating with the trees- grooving on the sounds of the birds and
other critters- careful to not injure rare species while harvesting very
selectively.... simultaneously able to cruise the forest while doing Zen
meditation.... yes, a new image is needed. <G>

> Once in a blue moon I'll read a newspaper article that puts "foresters" in good
> light or one written by "foresters" spelling out the advantages of actively
> managing your woodlot (more likely, educating new land owners about the tax
> benefits of establishing a basis for your trees, so that when we ***CUT***
> them, we'll make out better with Uncle Sam).  Conservation issues seem to arise
> from other avenues without the term forestry in their bio.

Foresters tend to NOT be the most communicative types. It would help a
lot if gov. agencies actually promoted to the top foresters with better
communication skills rather than those who got out the harvest and how
to suck up to their bosses.

> Am I on to something here?  Anybody have a better term than "forester"?  Should
> forestry even be a degree on its own merits?  Should it only come after some
> ECO degree as a master's program?

Yes, a better term as explained above would be Forestmeister. Since I'm
the self proclaimed first Forestmeister in the western hemisphere, I
will of course have to prepare the official job description; which will
be difficult! Few will qualify. <G>

> At a minimum, the general public needs more material about "forestry" success
> stories -- the pretty picture at the "end" of a REGENERATION (now that's a good
> word) compared to a highgrading or no management in a similar stand.

Not that I like to brag..... but most of my logging jobs.... er I mean
silvicultural treatments- within a few years look fantastic. I leave
many more big trees than any forester in my area. I often leave the most
valuable and most beautiful specimens. That hurts financially but I earn
mucho good karma. On several of my clients' properties I'm now working
the second round of harvests. It's nice to walk through an area that I
"treated" as little as 10 years ago and see that there is a great deal
of high quality timber there- since all the junk was taken out
previously- the quality and value is often much higher the second time
around. This is the way it SHOULD be. Most logging with or without
foresters around here looks like hell- and those acres won't be
harvestable for at least 30 years. End of brag.

It might also help the image of forestry if there were more forestry web
pages. There are something like 250 members of the Mass. Assoc. of Prof.
Foresters- half consultant, the other half industrial or burro- and
there is still after a year, only one forestry web site in the state-
not counting one by a NY consultant who also practices here (Bill
Hohmann). My state forestry agency contributes ZERO to cyberspace,
although I see many progressive states have fine web pages.

> There is a lot of talk about wildlife species, understory vegetation such as
> mushrooms, oxygen generation and the mere escape from the city in these
> forestry newsgroups.  How much are these topics covered in the formal forestry
> education process?
> Regards.

Uh.... having wrapped up my forestry education not long after Woodstock,
I can't say for sure what goes on in forestry schools. When I was there,
almost none of those subjects were discussed except superficially in
intro biology or ecology courses. When I graduated I knew almost zero
wildflowers and almost zero birds and almost zero geology and I had an
"A-" average in my forestry courses. I also knew little about real "mud
forestry". I think my forestry school (U. Mass.) must be much better
now- since I drop by there one a year- I now notice a big stuffed black
bear at the entrance- posters on professor's doors showing great scenery
or birds or other aesthetic values and the students don't all have
crewcuts like when I was there with one exception. <G>


"Still, after a year, the only forestry web page in the otherwise
sophisticated state of Massachusetts"

"In wilderness is the preservation of the world."
Henry David Thoreau

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